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Re: Cretaceous termite castes

On Thu, Feb 18th, 2016 at 2:33 PM, Tim Williams <tijawi@gmail.com> wrote:

> Among insects, termites were the first to evolve eusociality (probably
> in the Late Jurassic).  In today's world the most persistent and
> aggressive enemies of termites are ants, which provide the major
> selection pressure for the specialized soldier caste of termites.  The
> weird thing is that soldier termites evolved tens of millions of years
> before ants.  So what were the 'enemies' that soldier termites were
> targeting prior to ants? ...

The dominant predators of modern ant species are other ants. In the absence of 
ants, ancient termites might have been their own worst enemies, defending their 
nests from either other species of termites or from rival 
colonies of the same species.

There are host of modern myrmecophage invertebrates other than ants, such as 
the larvae of butterflies, flies, or beetles. Ancient termites might have faced 
similar challenges.


Dann Pigdon
Spatial Data Analyst               Australian Dinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia